Everything you need to know about marriage in Niue

10 Sep 2023·20 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in Niue 01

Niue is a small island country in the South Pacific Ocean. The country is famous for being the world’s largest coral atoll. Both Niueans and foreigners from other countries are allowed to solemnize their marriages in the country; however, Niue is a very small country still in its developmental phase, and not many marriage ceremonies there are performed by foreigners from other parts of the world. In Niue, there are two types of marriages recognized by the government: traditional Niuean marriages and civil marriages. Traditional Niuean marriages are conducted according to Niuean customs and traditions and may be recognized by the Niuean community, but they are not legally binding. 

If couples plan on using their marriage certificate in a foreign country, they would not be recognized as being officially married if they contracted only a traditional marriage. Civil marriages in Niue are conducted by a state-authorized government official and are legally binding. Furthermore, both types of marriage require the couple to be over the age of 18 and not already legally married to someone else. Additional information about the marriage rules, including the minimum marriage age and other conditions, will be touched on later in this article. In Niue, marriages may be contracted between individuals of different ethnicities. There is no legal restriction on who can marry whom in Niue based on ethnicity. 

Interfaith and interethnic marriages are popular in the country, and there are spouses who opt for symbolic marriages. Symbolic marriages do not include legal marriage formalities, and such marriages are not legally recognized or proceed under the laws of the country. Couples have the freedom of choosing their most preferred location for their marriage as well as determining the marriage procedures and ceremonial rites to be performed. The rest of this article will touch on more details about marriages in Niue, from the documents required to the duties of both partners.

Civil marriages 

A civil marriage in Niue is performed by a state-authorized registrar in a civil registry. Couples who wish to get married in the country must visit the registry in the district or municipality closest to their district or residence to begin the marriage application and registration process. Both partners will be required to visit the registry on a business day to declare their intention to marry. The registrar will ensure that both partners are entering into the marriage of their own free will and consent after they express their desire to marry. Once this is confirmed, the marriage application form will be given to the couple. Both partners will have the option of filling out the form and returning it the same day, or they can take the application form home and return it after it has been filled out within a day or two. 

The registrar will inform the couple of the documents they are required to submit and the marriage conditions they are required to meet. Both partners must be at least 21 years old to get married in Niue; under special circumstances, female spouses aged 16 and male spouses aged 18 may be allowed to marry. Both partners must provide valid witnesses who have also reached the legal age of 21. A civil marriage will not be performed for a spouse who is facing a legal impediment or restriction under the law. This includes a convicted criminal or a person who is already married. The place where a previous marriage took place does not matter; if a spouse is still married to another person in any part of the world, they will not be allowed to perform a marriage in Niue. 

All marriages must be performed by single partners; therefore, spouses who were previously married will be required to provide documents that show they legally dissolved their previous marriage in the country where it was performed. The official languages in Niue are Niuean and English. Most people living in the country are bilingual. If a document is obtained from a foreign country, it must be translated by an accredited translator into the official languages of the country. Also, during the ceremony, partners who do not speak either of those languages may be required to provide an interpreter. 

All marriage documents must include an apostille, which serves as an authorization stamp, to provide the document's legitimacy. Both partners must complete the marriage application and registration process in person. Marriage through the use of proxies is not allowed, and the couple must be physically present during the ceremony to obtain their marriage license. To perform a civil marriage in Niue, there are no medical requirements for both Niueans and spouses from other countries. As a rule of thumb, both partners are expected to be in good mental and physical health before deciding to be legally married. The paperwork that must be submitted by both spouses is stated below.

Documents Required 

  • A valid photo ID such as a Niuean national ID or a valid passport
  • Two witnesses who are at least 21 years old and within their legal capacity to act as such
  • Both spouses must provide copies of their birth certificates showing their names as they are currently being addressed.
  • Divorce or death certificate. Separated or widowed spouses are required to provide either of these documents to show they legally terminated their previous marriages.
  • Certificate of freedom to marry This must be provided by foreign spouses.
  • Proof of residence in Niue

Religious marriages 

Religious marriages are popular in Niue. The country is dominated by Christians, who make up about 96 percent of the total population. The rest of the population is mostly those with no religious affiliations. Marriages under the principles of Christianity are generally performed in the church by a registered pastor or priest; however, each denomination may have certain criteria that must be met by both partners. To get married in the Roman Catholic Church in Niue, at least one of the spouses must be a Catholic, and both partners must be baptized Christians. 

This implies that spouses who belong to other religious groups or have no religious affiliations will be unable to contract marriages in the church. In some churches, if the second partner is not a member of that same church, they will be required to agree to raise their children in that church before they are allowed to get married. Church weddings usually last for about two to three hours, and after the church ceremony is concluded, a wedding reception is usually held in a separate venue.

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Marriage traditions in Niue

Exchange of Vows

In Niue, the bride and groom exchange wedding vows during the church service. These vows are promises they make to each other to express their commitment and love. The church usually provides the vows to be shared by the couple, but they may also decide to write their own personalized vows.

Wedding Reception

Wedding receptions in Niue are usually big ceremonies. It is common for the newlyweds to invite various members of the church to celebrate their beautiful day with them. The wedding reception includes a lot of eating, drinking, and dancing. The couple and other guests may partake in various games and other ceremonial rites.

Honeymoon

After the wedding reception is concluded, the bride and groom will go on their honeymoon vacation. Some spouses may decide to travel out of the country, while others may use hotels, resorts, etc. available in Niue to enjoy their new era as a married couple. The honeymoon may last for up to a week or more.

Same-sex marriages

Same-sex marriages are illegal in Niue. Two partners of the same sex are not allowed to enter into a union or marriage in the country. Homosexuality and same-sex sexual activities are illegal for males but legal for females. There are no discrimination protections either on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the country. Same-sex couples are not eligible for the marriage rights and benefits available to opposite-sex couples in the country.

Polygamous marriages 

Polygamy is prohibited in Niue. Marriages involving multiple spouses are not allowed under both civil and customary laws. In ancient times, polygamous marriages used to be performed in traditional marriages, especially in rural areas. However, most marriages in the country now have a monogamous nature. Only the first marriage can be registered, thereby rendering other marriages or unions contracted after invalid.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws

Niue is a self-governing territory in free association with New Zealand, so the laws of marriage in Niue are largely based on the laws of marriage in New Zealand. In Niue, the legal requirements for getting married are similar to those in New Zealand. The groom and bride must give their willing consent to marriage. They must not be put under any form of stress or be threatened to give consent to marriage. The use of force to contract marriage is against the law in Niue. According to the law, the minimum age for marriage is set at 16 years for females and 18 years for males. However, anyone who has not reached the age of 21 is required to provide parental permission for marriage to take place. In the absence of parental permission, a legal guardian can give consent to marriage, or the couple can obtain a court's ruling. 

According to the law of marriage in Niue, the husband and wife must not already be married. They must be single at the time of marriage. In the case that one or both couples have been married in the past but are currently divorced or widowed, the concerned party is required to submit a certificate of divorce or the death certificate of the former spouse to the appropriate authorities. The groom and bride are not allowed to marry their close relatives as it is considered incestuous. Incest and consanguinity are highly prohibited in Niue. There is no residency requirement for couples to fulfill in Niue. However, couples must obtain a marriage license from the Niue Island Government and have the ceremony performed by a licensed marriage officer, such as a minister or registrar. 

The marriage ceremony must be performed in the presence of at least two witnesses. The witnesses must be at least 21 years of age, and they must have valid identification documentation. In Niue, male same-sex activities are illegal, while female same-sex activities are legal. Same-sex couples are not allowed to contract marriage in Niue. Foreigners are allowed to be legally married in Niue. However, they must be permitted to contract marriage in their various home countries before they are allowed to get married in Niue. The foreign couple is required to submit a certificate of no legal impediment to marriage, and he or she must be able to prove his or her current marital status.

Rights

Couples in Niue have the legal rights and protections that come with marriage, including the ability to live together and make decisions about property management and ownership. They can choose between different marital property regimes and sign prenuptial agreements to protect their assets in the event of divorce. Both partners have the right to seek financial support from each other if they separate or divorce. Couples have equal rights to initiate divorce proceedings. The divorce petition may be filed based on the mutual agreement of both spouses or based on the fault of one of the spouses. Additionally, couples in Niue have the right to adopt children. The husband and wife enjoy equal next-of-kinship rights. They both have the right to make medical decisions for each other in the event that one of them is unable to. 

Marriage grants couples the eligibility to enjoy certain social security and tax benefits that are not available to the public. They both possess equal legal guardianship and parental rights over their children. These rights cannot be renounced, and they must not be abused. Upon the death of one spouse, the surviving spouse has the right to inherit all property and financial assets belonging to the previous spouse. They both have the right to work and receive equal payment for work done, as well as certain marriage benefits at their workplace. After all requirements have been met, the husband and wife have the same right to confer their nationality on their foreign spouses. Upon contracting marriage, couples still have access to their fundamental rights. They have the right to vote and be elected to public government offices. They have the right to seek legal assistance in cases of domestic violence or injustice.

Cost

Marriage in Niue is relatively affordable compared to other parts of the world. The average cost of getting married in Niue is estimated to be between $1,500 and $5,000. This cost is determined by a number of factors, such as the preferences of the couple, the location of the wedding ceremony and reception, the couple's financial ability, etc. This cost does not include the cost of the wedding attire or the catering and accommodations. 

To cater to the guests at an average wedding in Niue, couples should expect to spend at least $50 per person on food and drinks. Hotel accommodations in Niue are estimated to cost between $26 and $143. This depends on whether the hotel room is rented during the week or during the weekend.

Duties

In Niue, couples have certain legal and financial responsibilities to each other and the family once marriage is contracted. The duties of couples include the duty to provide financial support for each other. This implies that each partner has a duty to contribute to the household expenses and support the other financially if they are unable to do so themselves. Married men and women have a duty to maintain a reasonable standard of living. Couples are expected to live in a manner that is consistent with their income and financial means. They should not go above their means to meet the needs of the family. 

Both parties are obligated to be faithful and maintain mutual respect for one another. The marriage should be based on mutual respect and trust. The legal duty to support and cater to the needs of the children rests on the shoulders of couples in Niue. In Niue, both parents are legally responsible for financially supporting their children. Even in the event of divorce, the duties of couples towards their children do not end. They are both responsible for the welfare of the children until they are able to make decisions on their own. The couple is required to provide adequate and proper educational and moral upbringing for the children. Couples are expected to make decisions that are in the best interests of the family.

In Summary 

Marriages in Niue may be solemnized by an authorized marriage officer or a minister of religion. Both civil and religious marriages have rules that must be followed by both partners for them to be recognized and protected by law.

Foreign spouses getting married in Niue must visit the justice department upon their arrival in the country to complete and sign the notice of intended marriage form. After the civil registration is completed, the registrar will issue a copy of the marriage certificate to the couple and keep the other one at the registry. This article includes everything you need to know about marriage in Niue.

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